Friday, July 17, 2009
The Adornment of the Middle Way: Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalankara
Madhyamaka, or the Middle Way, is accepted by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism as the most profound expression, in philosophical terms, of emptiness, the true nature of phenomena. Emptiness is the basis on which the whole of Mahayana practice is founded, from the mind-training meditations on bodhichitta to the advanced yogas of tantra and dzogchen. The Madhyamaka tradition, inaugurated by Nagarjuna and dominant in India for over a thousand years, remains a vibrant force in Tibetan Buddhism. Shantarakshita's view, quintessentially expressed in the Madhyamakalankara, effects a synthesis between the Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna, the Mind-Only teachings traced back to Asanga, and the logico-epistemological tradition of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. This great work marks the final stage in the evolution of Madhyamaka and was the last major development of Buddhist philosophy in India. Composed toward the end of the nineteenth century, Mipham's brilliant and searching commentary has been described as one of the most profound examinations of Madhyamaka ever written. In presenting and defending Shantarakshita's view, Mipham throws down the gauntlet to the philosophical establishment and calls for a major reassessment of the Madhyamaka field. This challenging but rewarding text is indispensable to a balanced understanding of Tibetan Buddhist thought. This book is a core study text for both scholars and practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.